Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area

© Jamie Johnson

The Flamborough and Filey Coast SPA protects the UK’s largest mainland breeding seabird colony

Over 250,000 birds nest along the Flamborough and Filey coast between March and September, including the only mainland colony of gannets in England and one of the largest population of kittiwakes in the UK. The cliffs are also home to the famous puffins and their cousins, the guillemots and razorbills.

The SPA provides protection to the cliffs which the birds depend on and extends 2km out to sea, affording protection for inshore waters which are important to the seabird’s breeding behaviours. This internationally-recognised designation forms part of the Flamborough Head European Marine Site (EMS) and is underpinned by the Flamborough Head Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

2022 Flamborough Head EMS Annual Report

How is the protected area managed?

The protected areas around the Flamborough and Filey coast are managed by a partnership of organisations. These organisations, known as Relevant Authorities, have a legal duty to uphold the protection afforded to the area’s important species and habitats.  Working together, the eleven Relevant Authorities and a core group of other key partners, share their expertise and resources to provide proactive management to the Flamborough Head EMS.

Many activities, such as fishing or developments, which take place around the Flamborough and Filey Coast SPA are licensed by individual Relevant Authorities.  When issuing permissions or licences, the Authority must take into account any potential impacts on the protected area.  Non-licensable activities, such as recreational activities, are jointly managed by all Authorities.

The Relevant Authorities have agreed a five-year Management Plan for the Flamborough Head EMS (including the SPA).  The Management Plan describes the importance of the site, the activities which are known to take place within the boundaries of the protected area, and the active or planned management for each of those activities.

2022 – 2026 Flamborough Head EMS Management Plan
© Martin Jones-Gill

Features of the SPA

The Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs SPA was originally designated in 1993 for its internationally important colony of Kittiwakes. In 2016, the protected area was extended and renamed as the Flamborough and Filey Coast SPA. This extension provided specific protection to another three species, the overall seabird assemblage, and the terrestrial cliff environment of Filey Brigg.  The revised SPA also protects the inshore waters around the seabird breeding cliffs, from mean low water to 2km offshore.

On behalf of Natural England, the RSPB carries out annual monitoring of the seabird colony.  Find out more at the link below.

Seabird Monitoring Programme

Linked projects and further information…